“I’m part of a mass layoff. What rights do I have?”

I saw this Q&A on The Globe and Mail and thought I’d respond here.  Original article: I’m part of a mass layoff. What rights do I have?

What rights do you have?

You have the right to move on. I give you permission to move on.  Unless you are in a unique situation, a lawsuit is probably not going to get you anywhere, except a few thousands of dollars poorer, and hundreds of hours down the drain. I have no experience in this, it’s just what I’ve gathered over the years.

You have the right to move on. Don’t stew over how unjust it was that YOU got laid off.  Whether you were the rainmaker who made millions of dollars for the company in sales, or the brilliant R&D person who designed the product that made billions of dollars for the company, it’s over.  Your “agreement,” if you will, was that you would go to work, do stuff, and get paid to do it.  Unless you had ownership in the company, that’s really the extent of it.  Join the club of the many thousands (millions?) of people who made someone else rich and didn’t get more than a thank you printed on a pink piece of paper.

You have the right to move on.  Yes, your severance sucks (if you even have one). This is probably justified by how the company structures their finances/bankrupcy… if there is a mass layoff, it’s because there are problems.  Sometimes, even though they still have cash, they can structure things in such a way that lets them start over… but part of starting over is cutting things and people and contracts and vendors and debtors.  You just happen to be one of the things they don’t want around when they start over.  Looking for a piece of the action?  There is no action. Know of the fraud and deceit, and want to expose it?  Get a blog and write what you know.   But as far as getting a cash payout… it’s probably better to just move on.

You have the right to move on.  It’s time to take care of Numero Uno (which is YOU and your family/dependents).  For years you spent your time taking care of your company, your customers, your products, your domain/jurisdiction, and neglecting YOURSELF.  That’s what I did… and when I was out on my own I found I was a decrepit, neglected soul.  Actually, I was quite rich in relationships and life, but as far as my career health, I was chronically ill and ill-prepared.  It would take years of healing.  Start that healing now, and don’t ever neglect your career health again.

You have the right to move on. If you are a little older, you probably grew up thinking a “career” was this thing where you had maybe two or three jobs over a thirty or forty year span, and then retired at a fairly comfortable level, probably travelling a bit, enjoying the finer things of life, etc.  I need you to move on from this mentality.  Maybe those days will come back (some argue that the economic cycle will put us back at a point where companies do indeed value long-term employees), but for now we need to MOVE ON.  Think more about how you add value to any given industry, or a group of companies.  Think about what you can do so companies will say “I need you to solve this problem!”  And then realize that you solving a problem doesn’t constitute marrying the company… it is simply an engagement to solve the problem.  And then you will very likely be allowed (invited, asked, forced) to move on to the next problem at some other company.  What used to be Job Security, where the company had all the power, has shifted to what I call “income security,” where YOU have more control over what you do, how you prepare, where you go, how you bring income into your household, etc.  Shifting power to yourself vs. allowing others to have all power over your job/career/income is so freeing!

You have the right to move on.  Let me say that you can and maybe should whine and mope around for a little while… but not too long. Don’t let it get to toxic.  Put a limit on how long and how deep you go, and then allow yourself to move on.  That means that, for the most part, you stop the pity party and get to work.  Allow yourself to be human, but don’t wallow in destructive thinking or behavior.  You don’t have time to wallow.  You need to start working on YOU, your relationships, your branding, etc.

I’m no lawyer.  I’m no expert in what you are entitled to.  But having gone through this, and watching/helping people go through this over the last 9 years, I know a thing or two about what rights you have.

You have the right… to move on!  And not even look in the rear view mirror!

2 thoughts on ““I’m part of a mass layoff. What rights do I have?””

  1. This is awesome, Jason. I have friends working at a site that is now going to close and though the company is as shady as it gets, they are still harboring illusions that they will or should be “taken care of.” I’m sharing this with them.

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